Kampala | It has to be recalled that on Labour Day 1st May 1970, H. E. Dr. Apolo Milton Obote the then President of the Republic of Uganda launched the famous Nakivubo pronouncements and one of the key issues was government to nationalize all Oil and Petroleum Companies operating in Uganda and to be directly in charge of all oil and petroleum imports in the country.
This was a great grand vision to the nation and consistent with the spirit of the UPC Constitution that promotes a mixed economy, “To plan Uganda’s economic development in such a way that the public sector, private sector, workers, peasants and farmers through the cooperative movement, commerce and industry will effectively contribute to increased production and wealth thus raising people’s welfare and standard of living in the country,” Article 2.5 of the Party Constitution.
This is a journey that gives priority to our independence and sovereignty which reflects a lot on the degree of nation-hood, which Uganda as a country is trying to achieve.
This sort of planning was never fully implemented due to the events of the 25th January 1971 military coup that overthrew H. E. Dr. Apolo Milton Obote and UPC UPC-led government.
However, UPC during its press conference of 1st November 2023 highlighted the challenges of high cost of living which our people in the country are facing and encouraged the Government to consider subsidies in key sectors especially on oil with the aim of lowering and stabilizing fuel pumps prices which should benefit the economy as transport is a key factor in production and marketing processes.
The government’s decision of buying bulk suppliers falls directly on the shoulders of Uganda National Oil Company and its subsidiaries in oil refinery that are of recent creation. This requires the capacity to deliver at a national level, which is not an easy undertaking.
The line Ministries of Finance and Energy who are the key shareholders at the moment with Uganda Oil Company have to be more focused and ready to steer the country forward. This is a real challenge!
Anything sort of untimely delivery of fuel in the country is bound to plunge the economy into deep waters and recovery can be very much difficult. To a layman, the cost of buying fuel directly from bulk suppliers is good economics and makes a lot of savings, but our challenge has been the capacity to deliver on government policies as our institutions are weak and have to grapple with challenges of personal interests and corruption.
UPC, therefore, advises the government to be cautious on the move of reclaiming oil imports.
The writer is the UPC party spokesperson.